Canon Photo Mentor Tejas Soni's Take on Street PhotographyShalini Puri | New Market Development Manager, Canon India Pvt. Ltd.

Category: Tips & Tricks | 03 September 2019

Street Photography is more than just about capturing what you see on the streets. It is about capturing the beauty of everyday life and capturing the essence of humanity. It is a subtle blend of emotions, expressions and juxtapositions. The action, satire, humour and a plethora of myriad emotions make street photography unique.

We got an opportunity to interview one of our Canon Photo mentors Tejas Soni, who is an avid street photographer. Through this article, he has shared his experience of using Canon EOS 80D for Street Photography.

Tejas, is a multi-talented artist from Ahmedabad, a city in Gujarat, India. This is what he had to share about himself, “I grew upholding a paint brush in one hand and clay in another, a glass changed the frames that I saw. The play with the brush and clay moulded my frames. Born to humble hardworking parents I grew up being tutored to make a living. But my conscience craved to rise above the mundane existence soon to suppress. Without any formal training, experiments and accidents kept happening, and they enhanced the frame. Then work has taken me places and has made me known to people. To call it “fame” would be too arrogant, but the milestones that I have crossed were never in my road map.”

Q.  What is Street Photography to you?

A. Street photography is a record of everyday life in public spaces. Except the definition, there is nothing in the street photography that runs common in its practice. The term “street” should not be taken literally, because the photography is not limited to roadways as the terms suggests.

While the opinions and approaches may vary, as far as I am concerned, fundamentally street photography is a depiction of real life infused with an awareness of visual aesthetics. A street photographer’s primary concern is life in general and its adaptation to stand-alone meaningful frames.

When I am on the prowl, careful curation of visual elements and watchful selection of the right moment are the two most crucial elements of my street photography. In absence of props or lighting, little preparation time, and ideally no preconceptions, these two elements alone makes my images meaningful.

EXIF:  f/4.5, 1/2000sec, ISO250

Q.   Do you have any tips on what equipment to use for street photography? What is your go-to gear for a shoot?

A. I tend to travel light. So I do not carry too much. Generally, I have my caps and covers, a few first aid tinkers, my photography gear, something to munch, and a bottle of water. Minimalism in life has huge benefits. Rarely do I carry any tripods.

In my gear, Canon EOS 80D is one of my favorites. I carry it around almost every time. Initially, while using an APS-C sensor body, I was a bit concerned that image quality may get compromised. But my EOS 80D have bypass all my professional requirement for a shoot, it has never failed me. It comes with the standard zoom lens EF-S18-135mm IS USM which provides the versatility to handle different angle shots during street photography. The USM motor in lens helps the camera to achieve continuous shooting of 7fps along with high speed AF, which is especially needed in capturing moving subjects.

EXIF:  f/4.5, 1/125sec, ISO400

Q.   How is your low light photography experience with the Canon EOS 80D?

A. Some of my best frames have been in low light. I would also like to add that the play of shadows and the hue of the colors are at its best in low light, especially at twilight. My innate desire is to capture the true to life colours which generally gets muddled while clicking in low light situation. Canon EOS 80D reproduces almost the exact colour pallet, which is so appealing to the eyes. Also the camera features a wide ISO range of ISO 100–16000 (expandable to 25600) for stills and ISO 100–12800 (expandable to 16000/25600) for movies, performing brilliantly in low-light shooting even without a flash.

EXIF:  f/8, 1/160sec, ISO100

Q.   Can you tell us what goes in your mind before you click that shutter button to capture your shot?

A. Photography is an approximation of painting. During the pre-visualization stage, I tend to latch on the colours and the hues that I wish to portray in the picture. Subconsciously, I also think of a story that I wish to narrate.

During the visualization stage, I tend to see how my expectations are met when I peer through the lens. Are my colours and their hue same as I saw with my naked eyes? Is my story still intact? Once I am satisfied, I press the shutter button firmly. Till day, I have never been disappointed.

I do not tend to carry a tripod all the time. So the weight of the camera is important. In all my excursions, EOS 80D has been a reliable companion. I use wrist bands extensively when I have prolonged exposure it helps.

EXIF:  f/4.5, 1/400sec, ISO320

Q.  Is the focusing system in EOS 80D, fast enough to click sharp images while you are clicking unpredictable moments on the street?

A. It is a ZAP!! When I am at crosshair in unpredictable moments, the focusing system kicks in fast. I would like to add here that it takes a bit of practice. Most of the times, I tend to use the burst mode. The AF works beautifully and works in tandem with the burst mode. With the 45AF points AF auto focus is really fast, resulting in a stress-free street photography experience. It also features 4 types of AF area selection modes useful for a number of different AF situations. Over a period of time, tracking becomes a second nature.

EXIF:  f/4.5, 1/320sec, ISO40

Q.  Have u ever used the pre-set creative filters on your Canon EOS 80D, if yes then what is you experience do the picture still look realistic?

A. My use of creative filters has been limited. However, I am very fond of using Auto White Balance (AWB) function on EOS 80D and then use the WB shift/bracketing function to fine tune the white balance. It is easy to choose colors as per your taste and preference.

Q.  What are your most reliable lenses and what are the must have to do street photography?

A. I would generally carry my Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4-5.6 IS STM for wide angle shorts and with its sophisticated AF speed and Image Stabilisation (IS) results in excellent sharp images with no or minimal distortion. Canon EF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, a great walk around lens when you would want to travel light but click more. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, this is my personal favourite for street portraits and low light photography. EOS 80D with its colour tracking AF, allows to detect the skin tone resulting in fast n precise focusing. It also depicts skin tones very beautifully.

EXIF:  f/6.3, 1/200sec, ISO100

Q.  What tips you would want to give to click pictures during night time?

A. While shooting at night, the biggest concern is not to disturb anyone or anything. The pictures taken in the most natural form are the best. So, I first try and absorb the scene at night. Once I am ready, the low light, which is the part of ambience, becomes a trusted ally. The tales that waft through the pictures captured in low light in street photography are quite unique. In low light scene one has to set a high ISO to capture the details. Although the noise tends to stand out in high ISO speeds, EOS 80D lets you achieve a lovely finishing with little noise with its high normal ISO speed of 1600. Additionally, an additional attention has also been paid to its vari angle touch screen LCD monitor, the optical view finder with approx. 100% coverage and the cameras ease of use.

EXIF:  f/5.6, 1/500sec, ISO160

Q.  Do you have any tips for photographers which will help them grow in their creative output?

A. Like every author or poet, each photographer is unique. He has a tale to tell. Every frame you click has a tale to itself. Ask yourself, have you been honest with your story in the frame? Have you allowed it to flow through in your photograph? And you will nail the shot & the story would come out perfectly.

Shalini Puri

New Market Development Manager, Canon India Pvt. Ltd.

Shalini Puri is a photography enthusiast based out of Delhi. She has been associated with Canon India for over 7 years, where she lives her passion for photography. Her immense knowledge about digital SLRs has helped her in elevating her photography skills. She is a product expert who enjoys food photography & infant photography.